We see this time and again in our office. By the time the Surviving Spouse is deceased, funds have disappeared without any accounting or explanation by the Successor Trustee.
So, what can you do about it in your Living Trust and Durable Powers of Attorney (DPA)? You should incorporate Accounting Requirement Provisions that mandate whoever is acting as your Successor Trustee, to account to all beneficiaries on request. This is especially true if a son or daughter is acting as the Trustee and there is sibling rivalry or siblings who reside out of state.
The provisions I now implement into our Family/Living Trusts and DPAs, require that the fiduciaryaccount within 30 days upon the request of a beneficiaryeven though the Surviving Spouse is still living. This provides all of the beneficiaries some relief if the Successor Trustee begins to neglect to respond to inquiries by the beneficiaries or to matters that look suspicious.
Many parents do not understand, or refuse to accept the fact that children take on different views of control and family decision-making when parents are no longer involved. There may be jealousies, frustrations and problems that have not surfaced when the parents were active in the family. Now, when one child takes over the Trusteeship and begins to “conduct the orchestra”, issues surface. It is at this time accountability is needed the most.
This situation is also true should you retain a Private Fiduciary to act as Successor Trustee. They, definitely, should be made to account to your beneficiaries. Again, if you have no Trust provision to this effect, there is no way to force an accounting for your remainder beneficiaries.
As part of an update to your Living Trust and Estate Plan, call the office and request a consultation with me.
Jack E. Stephens